Trip reports

Field Trip - Spurn Head

little egret, wading, water

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Although they are both in Yorkshire, it's a long journey from Sheffield to the sand and shingle spit of Spurn Head which sticks out for about three miles into the mouth of the Humber but we got there to a fine day, though with a stiff breeze from the west.

A few of us decided to get off the coach early to explore the wetlands to the north of the village of Kilnsea near which the new Visitor Centre is located. Most though continued to the Visitor Centre in search of refreshment prior to their day's birding. From there, a few headed to Spurn Point itself (some taking advantage of the safaris in the all-terrain 'Unimog' vehicle) but most kept to the area around where the spit joins the mainland.

The factors that make Spurn a birding Mecca are its unique position on the east coast combined with a range of habitats including sea, sand dunes, shingle, saltmarsh, mudflats, pools and other wetland areas - as well as the fields, trees and hedgerows around Kilnsea village.

Those who had chosen to leave the coach at Kilnsea Wetlands were well rewarded with birds including Pink-footed Goose, Pintail, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Greenshank. A mixture of gulls included Mediterranean Gull and Kittiwake and there were also Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns. Knot were seen at Beacon Ponds - to the seaward side of Kilnsea Wetlands.

Others began their day looking east out to sea where a steady stream of birds was passing, some distance away, in front of the wind turbines. These included frequent groups of Common Scoter plus Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser, Gannet, Razorbill, and a mixture of skuas.

In the opposite direction, birds on the Humber Estuary mudflats included many Shelduck along with a variety of waders such as Ringed and Grey Plovers, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Curlew. In addition to Little Egrets, a single Great White Egret was spotted on the saltmarsh opposite the Crown and Anchor pub in Kilnsea village.

This village and its surroundings added significantly to the variety of birds seen. Swallows and House Martins were still swooping overhead and the fields and hedgerows along the 'green lane' running north from the village yielded Blackbird, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

Other birds seen during the day included Mute Swan, Greylag and Canada Geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling and Black-headed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Greater Black-backed Gulls.

All in all, it was a good day's birding - although the stiff westerly breeze did keep the number and range of birds seen lower than it might otherwise have been.